This article discusses ways to talk to your picky eater about eating and also discusses when and if you should talk to your picky eater about eating.
Should you talk to your child about their eating challenges?
I recently polled my community of parents to learn more about the conversations they have with their children about their eating.
It turns out that while most parents do talk to their children about their eating habits and the challenges that they experience, many parents felt that they shouldn’t or couldn’t talk to their kids.
Many shared that they thought that it was not okay to talk to your picky eater about eating and many told me that they wanted to talk to their children about their eating challenges, but didn’t know how.
Should You Talk to Your Picky Eater About Eating?
While every child is different, I’ve found that talking to a child who struggles to eat about their eating challenges is helpful.
Having a conversation often creates an opportunity for you to learn more about your child’s unique struggles, which can help you to better support them.
Additionally, when you talk to your child you can provide them with supportive techniques and explanations that can help make eating easier for them.
How to Talk to Your Picky Eater About Eating
When talking to your child about their eating challenges, it’s important to come from a place of acceptance and growth.
The goal should be to demonstrate that your child can experience a different relationship with food, even if they currently struggle to enjoy a variety of foods.
When to Talk to Your Picky Eater About Eating
While every child is different, it is okay – and can even be helpful – to talk to your picky eater about eating challenges. When deciding if you want to talk to your child, consider their age and developmental level.
Be sure to bring up the conversation when your child seems receptive. The goal of the conversation should not be to blame or shame. Instead, aim to educate and empower your child.
You might want to consider talking to your child about their eating challenges outside of mealtimes.
2 Helpful Things to Say When Your Picky Eater Is Learning to Try New Foods
These are helpful phrases to say to your picky eater (and to keep in mind yourself!).
These phrases for picky eaters can help your child understand how their eating journey can evolve, that their food preferences are not static, and can show them that learning to enjoy new foods is possible for them.
You can use these phrases when your picky eater is learning to try new foods and when you are working on strategies to help them try new foods.
- “It’s normal to need extra help with something. Some things come naturally to us and then there are some things that we need to work on a little harder. Some kids need extra help with reading or math. Some need help with eating. That’s okay. We’re going to work on it.”
- “Learning to eat new foods is like training your body to play a new sport. It might feel weird at first. It might be hard or uncomfortable. In the beginning, it might feel unnatural. But, over time, the more you practice, the stronger your muscles get, the more your body understands what it needs to do, and the easier it becomes. Eating is the same way; you need to practice.”
Give the above scripts a try when you are talking to your child about their eating challenges. If you are looking for more support, techniques, and scripts to use with your child, you can find them and many more resources in my book, Stories of Extreme Picky Eating: Children with Severe Food Aversions and the Solutions that Helped Them.